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Arcane Mage in the Shadowlands: Class Recommendations and Spec Highlights

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Update: the Arcane pre-patch guide is ready and you can check it out here:
Arcane Mage Shadowlands Guide

Arcane Mages have received plenty of changes in the Shadowlands beta, and the playstlye has actually changed - not drastically, but enough to be significant. We asked our resident Arcane expert,  Dutchmagoz , to take us through everything relevant that is changing for the spec, from talents going baseline, mechanical and talent changes, Covenant choice, legendaries, Counduits and more!

Exciting Changes for Arcane Mages in Shadowlands

One of the best new features in Shadowlands is Covenants, and Arcane is getting some interesting effects from them. However, Arcane is getting a bunch of other changes in as well, which have a bigger impact on how the spec plays. Arcane is a getting some old spells back, and getting multiple spells baked into one, along with moving some talents baseline. In this article we will go over some of the more interesting changes coming to Arcane in Shadowlands.


Mechanical changes coming in Shadowlands

Arcane has received quite some new and reworked spells, but the way the spec functions has also been altered, changing how you should think about your spells.

  • Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles Importance: Arcane's Mastery, Mastery: Savant Mastery: Savant, has been changed to not only boost the damage of spells affected by Arcane Charges, but all spells. This is specifically relevant to Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles, as this used to lose value quickly when you got more Mastery since its damage was unaffected by Mastery. Additionally, Clearcasting Clearcasting now also gives an extra Arcane Missiles hit, which further boosts Arcane Missiles damage. On top of that, there are talents which also boost Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles damage directly or indirectly, in the form of Amplification Amplification and Arcane Echo Arcane Echo. All of these changes together make Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles an extremely hard hitting spell compared to before.
  • Clearcasting Clearcasting now stacks up to 2 times. This change allows you to save a proc of Clearcasting Clearcasting for when you need it, without risk of overriding it. This means you can for example save a proc for a specific target you need to kill quickly, or for mobility when talented into Slipstream Slipstream.

Interesting new baseline spells in Shadowlands

  • Alter Time Alter Time is returning. This was one of the most interesting spells Mages had in the past, before it got removed. Luckily, Shadowlands is bringing it back! At first glance, it might not seem like such a big deal, but Alter Time Alter Time has a huge variety of uses, both in PvE and PvP. In raiding the primary use will be as a defensive tool that you activate before a big hit and then instantly heal up by pressing it again after the big hit came out, but it can be used in many other ways for mobility as well. As an example, it can be used at your current position when you get a debuff that drops a pool of fire when it expires, then blink away from the group to place the bad debuff, and instantly teleport back into position.
  • Mirror Image Mirror Image is no longer a talent, but instead a baseline spell. It is also changed to do less damage, but give a defensive buff. It is generally considered an iconic Mage spell, and getting it back baseline instead of it competing with very strong talents is a nice change. The damage reduction aspect of it also makes it a pretty good defensive tool.
  • Touch of the Magi Touch of the Magi is also moved from a talent to baseline. Additionally, it gives much more control than the talent gave, by becoming active, and also giving 4 Arcane Charges. (Effectively baking Charged Up Charged Up into it). Touch of the Magi Touch of the Magi becoming baseline is giving Arcane a much needed boost in cleave damage. The fact that the Charged Up Charged Up effect is included also makes it so the set up time for Arcane is kept in check. Additionally, it gives Arcane the option for some mini burns again, since it is on a relatively short cooldown and rewards bursting.


New and changed talents in Shadowlands

Arcane talents had a minor rework. As described above, a couple of talents became baseline, which opened up spots for new talents, and some old talents were reworked or replaced by new ones.

  • Master of Time Master of Time is a new talent in the level 25 row, replacing Mana Shield Mana Shield. This talent effectively boosts Alter Time Alter Time so it now also gives the effect that Displacement Displacement used to give. Worth keeping in mind, Arcane still does lose some mobility by losing Displacement, as you now effectively need to talent for the same effect, giving up other mobility talents.
  • Focus Magic Focus Magic is a new talent in the level 30 row, replacing Mirror Image Mirror Image. This brings back a spell removed some years ago from Mages, although slightly altered.
  • Rune of Power Rune of Power has been reworked a bit. Aside from being castable on demand, it now also automatically drops when activating Arcane Power Arcane Power. This is a pretty big quality of life change as it reduces the amount of setup required for Arcane to do its burst damage.
  • Arcane Echo Arcane Echo is a new talent in the level 35 row, replacing Charged Up Charged Up. Arcane Echo makes Touch of the Magi Touch of the Magi a stronger cooldown, further bolstering the fantasy of mini burns for Arcane. At current tuning, it is even worth only casting Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles while Touch of the Magi is up combined with Arcane Echo Arcane Echo.
  • Enlightened Enlightened is a new level 50 talent, replacing Arcane Orb Arcane Orb (which got moved down to the level 45 row, replacing Touch of the Magi Touch of the Magi). This talent is meant to simulate the playstyle of earlier versions of Arcane, where you would want to conserve Mana at high Mana levels since you would do more damage at those levels. The talent partially succeeds at reproducing this playstyle, but it will come down to tuning whether or not you will ever end up using this talent.


New Covenant Abilities

Venthyr Ability - Mirrors of Torment Mirrors of Torment - 1.5 min CD

On paper, this ability does not look very interesting, or even usable in a lot of scenarios. However, many boss abilities can trigger Mirrors of Torment, and in some cases even special auto attacks from raid bosses will trigger it. The ability on its own does a fair bit of damage, but what makes it truly a force to be reckoned with is when you combine it with the conduit, Siphoned Malice Siphoned Malice.

With proper planning, you can get this 30% bonus damage lined up with your other DPS cooldowns like Arcane Power Arcane Power, Rune of Power Rune of Power and Touch of the Magi Touch of the Magi, boosting your already strong burst by another 30%.

The main downside to this ability is that it is hard to use on any content outside of raid bosses, as generally in Mythic+ and pvp you will want to avoid your target from finishing any casts.

Night Fae Ability - Shifting Power Shifting Power - 45 sec CD

Although this ability itself does not do exactly great damage, the cooldown reduction is very strong for Arcane, since Arcane's cooldowns are very potent. It is quite interesting to use, as it allows you to go into burst windows much more often, and also greatly reduces the amount of time you will spend in the conserve phase, especially when combining it with talents like Overpowered Overpowered which reduces the Mana costs of your now more common burn phases, or with conduits like Arcane Prodigy Arcane Prodigy further reducing your cooldown of Arcane Power Arcane Power. In some situations where you get lucky with Clearcasting Clearcasting procs you might not even have to go into conserve phases at all for prolonged periods of time.

Kyrian Ability - Radiant Spark Radiant Spark - 30 sec CD

This ability is not that interesting to use, but it does add a fair bit of damage, by boosting your damage on the target significantly for a couple of hits. It is worth noting, that each Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles hit will count as a direct hit, so you will want to avoid casting Arcane Missiles while this ability is up on the target.

Necrolord Ability - Deathborne Deathborne - 3 min CD

Although cool thematically, probably the least interesting covenant ability. It is pretty awkward to use since it is on a 3 minute cooldown, whereas Arcane Power Arcane Power is on a 2 minute cooldown. It does help Arcane a bit in the cleave department, but other than that it is simply too weak and doesn't interact in any interesting ways with your playstyle.


Interesting Legendary effects coming in Shadowlands

There are more legendary effects available in Shadowlands, but below we have listed some of the most interesting ones that have significant impact on your gameplay.

  • Arcane Harmony Arcane Harmony on first glance looks to just boost the damage of Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles and Arcane Barrage Arcane Barrage, however, there is currently a build available on the beta that performs very well due to this legendary. Combining it with all the Arcane Missiles boosting talents and conduits currently allows you to only spam Arcane Missiles and do very competitive damage. Although this is probably not going to go live like that, we thought it was worth listing.
  • Siphon Storm Siphon Storm gives you two additional Arcane charges, and a sizable Intellect buff. This legendary, especially when combined with the Night Fae covenant ability will give you a near permanent burn phase, while also boosting the damage of your burn phase.

Interesting Conduits coming in Shadowlands

There are many conduits coming in Shadowlands, but below we will list the one that has significant impact on your gameplay.

  • Arcane Prodigy Arcane Prodigy allows you to reduce Arcane Power Arcane Power cooldown. With a standard rotation, this will already reduce the cooldown of Arcane Power a fair amount, but as described above, there are certain builds that become available due to this conduit. It can be combined with Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles boosting talents and legendaries to create a build that only casts Arcane Missiles. Alternatively, in combination with talents like Overpowered Overpowered and the Night Fae covenant ability this conduit will allow you (near) permanent burn phases.



Overall, Arcane is getting a lot of changes in Shadowlands.

A lot of the above described changes are quite interesting in isolation, but when you put them all together, the Arcane playstyle changes a fair bit. Although the core rotation of burning Mana and then conserving Mana remains the same, it has been streamlined a lot, reducing setup time by combining multiple spells into one button, and giving more control over our Mana and burst windows.

Additionally, the idea of mini burns coming back is quite exiting, as it changes around the otherwise pretty monotone conserve phase. Secondly, with certain combinations of Covenants / talents / conduits, you can even reach near permanent burn phases.

The final change is that Arcane Missiles is finally a hard hitting spell again, which means that getting Clearcasting procs is going to feel much more impactful than before, by instantly rewarding you with a big hitting spell.


Other Spec Highlights:

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Siphon StormSiphon Storm gives you an additional EvocationEvocation charge, and a sizable Intellect buff. This legendary, especially when combined with the Night Fae covenant ability will give you a near permanent burn phase, while also boosting the damage of your burn phase.


I think you're mistaken, it gives arcane charges, not evocation charges

But other than that, good article, Arcane mage has always been my main, and it is getting some love this expansion, I can't wait to play it.

Also, with the arcane prodigy conduit, the Necrolord class spell could be used every two arcane power imo, it can also last very long, and I think it is the most polyvalent of all, I hesitate between this and Night fae

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Arcane Mage gets Echo of Elements baseline before Elemental Shaman.

Jokes aside, solid changes and I'm excited to continue playing my arcane mage alt! Baking in the Arcane Pummeling trait is another huge boon!

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I'm surprised that Venthyr is a solid choice and Necrolord isn't. Cool.

I'm gonna wait until I can see the lore from Revendreth and Ardenwale and finally make a decision.  Thanks for the post 🥰

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5 hours ago, Mugendai said:

Siphon StormSiphon Storm gives you an additional EvocationEvocation charge, and a sizable Intellect buff. This legendary, especially when combined with the Night Fae covenant ability will give you a near permanent burn phase, while also boosting the damage of your burn phase.


I think you're mistaken, it gives arcane charges, not evocation charges

But other than that, good article, Arcane mage has always been my main, and it is getting some love this expansion, I can't wait to play it.

Also, with the arcane prodigy conduit, the Necrolord class spell could be used every two arcane power imo, it can also last very long, and I think it is the most polyvalent of all, I hesitate between this and Night fae


You are indeed correct, I was mixing it up with something else, thanks for pointing it out, will be fixed ASAP.

Regarding Necrolord, yeah, with arcane prodigy it lines up a bit better again. It is unfortunately still simply not big enough of a damage buff right now compared to what Night Fae or Venthyr offer us.

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